Justine and Grant are the man-and-wife dynamic duo behind Tandem Ceramics.
We spoke with Justine about inspiration and their beautiful + functional designs ...
Tell us about your roots and your transition to Western MA. What is most inspiring to you living here? I was born in West Springfield, MA and grew up in upstate NY. Grant was born in Winterpark, FL and also grew up in upstate NY. We moved to Western Mass two years ago after living in southwest Virginia for a couple years. We wanted to be somewhere people were doing their own thing and succeeding! Thats what is most inspiring about this area...seeing people create small businesses around what they love. And watching fellow artists and creatives supported by their community.
Tell us a story about a piece that is meaningful to you. One of my favorite pieces we make — the lurch-lines spirits cup — is based around a phrase my grandparents sometimes use. The two of them live on the Cape in a 240 year old colonial. In our transition to Western Mass, we stayed with them for a month and worked for them painting and re-shingling parts of their house. Every night my grandfather had a small glass of rum, or as he would say..."one-lurch or two" which refers to the amount of rum he would pour in the glass. And you could kind of tell how hard he had been working in the field that day based on that. The phrase itself harkens back to his days at sea (he worked for the Oceanographic Institute for years) wherein the men would measure their drinks by the rock of the boat in the lurch between the waves. Of course it is a very non-specific way to measure a drink because it depended on the sea. And I think the cups reflect that since the height of the gold measuring lines varies from one to the next.
Do you have any plans for future work? What challenges you and inspires you? We started our line very simply with only a small number of designs, but now we are coming up with designs faster than we can make them. Thats the biggest challenge…being inspired at a rate faster than you can create. I guess that is a good thing. As for new items, we have been itching to make planters and dinnerware seems like a fun avenue, but we don't want to limit ourselves to just pottery. We have an idea for a ceramic muddler for cocktails, which sounds like a great idea in theory because of the weight. We will have to try it and get back to you.
Do you have any custom items made just for Kestrel? Any plans for that in the future? We made a custom earring display for Kestrel, a black disk with holes in it for studs. I have never made anything with a black glaze so it was pretty startling in contrast to our typical white, but in the absolute best way possible! I can't wait to play around with it some more. Its gotten me thinking about other types of display pieces we could do.